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Haftarah: Melachim II 4:1-23

NOVEMBER 7-8, 2014 15 HESHVAN 5775


"Hashem said, 'The outcry of Sedom and Amorah has become great.'"(Beresheet 18:20)

A story is told of the time the Gaon of Vilna was consulted by leaders of the community about a proposed regulation to ban non-residents of their city from collecting sedakah in Vilna.

The Gaon reminded the leaders that under an existing agreement, he was only to be consulted about new rules and regulations.

"But this is a new regulation," they countered.

"What new regulation?" said the Gaon. "This was already the law of Sedom and Amorah!"

About a year ago the papers were covering a small news item. The headline read: "NJ town requires beggars to get permits." Middle Township NJ (AP). "A New Jersey town now requires beggars to obtain permits and would punish those who aggressively solicit donations."

The Middle Township ordinance reads that "it shall be unlawful for any person to ask, beg, or solicit alms upon the streets or elsewhere in the township without first obtaining a permit from the township. Nor is such a permit guaranteed. Persons may apply in writing for permission to ask, beg, or solicit alms, which such permission shall be issued on a case-by-case basis upon review of the municipal police department," the ordinance states. "While there is no fee for the permit, photo ID is required with the application."

Begging is a very difficult and humiliating experience, and those who are forced to do so suffer enough. Many of the individuals who find themselves in such dire straits are unlikely to have a driver's license or passport, and so the photo ID requirement is an additional formidable obstacle.

In reality, these collectors are the ones giving donors the opportunity to amass a great and much needed merit, and are doing all those around them a great favor.

Such an outrageous regulation is reminiscent of the lifestyle of Sedom, and the people of Middle Township should rescind this coldhearted decree immediately.

Baruch Hashem our community does not have such a regulation. It's true, that sometimes it gets difficult to pray in shul because some come and solicit during the prayers. The one in charge should tell them to wait and not solicit at a time that would disturb the prayers. But, other than that, solicitors should be welcomed. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Abraham arose early in the morning" (Beresheet 21:14)

From this verse, that Abraham arose early in the morning to stand before Hashem, we learn that Abraham prayed Shaharit. Indeed, we learn from here that we are supposed to pray in the morning just like Abraham. What is amazing is that the pasuk tells us that Abraham went back to pray at the same place where he prayed for Sedom. We know that although he prayed very hard that Hashem should not destroy Sedom and Amorah, his prayers were not answered, and the cities were destroyed. So Abraham went back to the same place to pray to Hashem although he was not answered affirmatively, and this is the main source where we learn prayer!

We see from here that although we ask Hashem for things and don't get a positive response right away, we should not be deterred. Often, we get down if we don't see the answer to our prayers immediately. We see that Abraham just went back to praying to Hashem because he knew that Hashem is just, and will do the best for him. We have to keep praying to Hashem and realize that He wants only the best for us. Hopefully, we will realize that our prayers are always being answered for our own good! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Dad noticed that Jacob, his usually exuberant six-year-old son, was feeling a little down. He entered the boy's room and called out, "Who wants ice cream?" The boy perked up - just a little - and gave his father a suspicious look.

"I'm going out to buy something from the hardware store, but I think I am going to stop at Sweet Treats Ice Cream Parlor on the way back. I have a real craving for their delicious jumbo double-scoop sundae. Do you want to come?" inquired the caring parent.

"Okay," replied the boy.

On the way, the youngster sat quietly, looking out the rear passenger window of the SUV, daydreaming about which flavor he would choose from the many offerings available at Sweet Treats. Once inside, the choice was easy. The double-dip chocolate-covered twist dripped from the cone as Jacob licked quickly, trying to keep himself clean as he and his father returned to the car. Getting what he wanted made Jacob very happy.

Some people feel guilty about their desires. Truth is, if what they want is not "kosher," they should suffer from guilt. But there are many delights that Hashem created in order to give pleasure to human beings and to make us happy. If our desires are reasonable and within the scope of things the Torah says we may want - then we should welcome them.

Think about Jacob and his dad. The father "created" a desire in order to bring a smile to his son's face when he satisfied the craving. King David said, "You open Your hand, and satisfy all living things their ratzon - with what they desire" (Tehillim 145:16). Hashem, in His kindness, created all of us with needs that He fills for us, generously, in order to make us happy.

In order to satisfy you and bring a smile to your face, Hashem created the desire. Accept His kindness with appreciation and joy. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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